From Book Four. Tally-ho!

About a week into their journey they stopped at a low outcropping of rocks to make camp for the night. As was their routine, Helena was led off the wagon to a place farther from where the rest of them camped—within sight, but out of earshot if they kept their voices low. There she was secured somehow—tied to a tree, or to a stake pounded into the ground. Tonight it was a stake.

Helena’s silent and willing acquiescence to this routine was as disturbing to Aydan as ever. There was no defeat in her posture—no slumped shoulders, no softness in the lines of her mouth. Her back was as straight as a dancer’s, her shoulders squared and set, her lips pressed into a firm line. Even so, there was never any sign of a desire to escape. It didn’t make sense, and Aydan didn’t like it.

•••   •••   •••

As always, loads of love,


p.s. Meow

TRUE STORY: Mean Girls and Revelations

Two of my kids–both boys, and both, in my opinion, are some of the finest boys on the planet–are navigating the choppy waters of middle school.

Normally I don’t blog about them. They’re getting older, and sometimes their friends–or their friend’s parents, or their teachers–read my blog, and it feels like a little invasion of privacy for their mom to talk candidly about their lives as  young men. So I usually stick to my littlest’s stories, and occasionally her older sister.

But middle school, man. It’s a tough gig.

My boys are artistic. They’re clever. They’re kind. They’re sarcastic. They’re loyal. They’re hardworking. They’re musical. They’re hilarious.

And oh my God, they’re the target of mean girls. Not just mean girls, but mean middle school girls. Let’s all have a moment of silence about that. Because mean middle school girls are the worst.

On the drive home from the bus stop, each kid has to tell me three good things about their day before anything else. After we’ve relived the positive, we move on to the tougher spots of the last ten hours. My oldest often says things like Nothing worth mentioning, Mom. Just the usual. He’s learning to let the shitty stuff roll off his back. I’m so proud of him–that’s super hard to do. It’s tougher for his younger brother. He’s just learning the art of ignoring haters, and he’s a little more sensitive, so it’s a struggle.

One particular drive home he was describing the recess scene to me, and it’s identical to almost every day prior. Mean girl seeks him out at recess. Mean girl proceeds to tear him down in a gross, underhanded and expertly played fashion. My boy is left wondering if maybe he really is stupid, and gross, and dumb for liking stuffed animals and Star Wars and for having angel kisses on his face.


And then David Bowie died. Thomas and I were talking about him at the kitchen table–about who he was a person, who he was as an artist. The boys were listening in, like they often do, taking in more than I give them credit for.

The next day in the car, the kids told me three positive things about their days, and then my son said,

“I thought about David Bowie a lot today. About how he was just who he was, and that he wasn’t afraid to be who God created him to be, even though so many people thought he was weird at first. And I thought about how because he was okay with being who God made him to be, and because he tried to be the best at just being himself, that he made a difference with his art.”

“That’s good stuff.” I said it softly, but inside I was bursting with pride.

“I want to be like that.”

“Me, too, kiddo.”

“I don’t want to wear make-up, though.”

“You don’t have to. That was his thing, sometimes. It doesn’t have to be yours.”

He turned and stared out the window at the passing cars and buildings and trees and telephone poles, disappearing into the thoughts inside his head. Still waters run deep.

TRUE STORY: Sometimes the mean girls help us see the David Bowie in ourselves.


p.s. Sleep tight, Starman.


You’re a reader. You devour books like warm-out-of-the-oven brownies, and are always on the hunt for the Next Great Thing to lay those hungry eyes upon.

Maybe your TBR pile is dwindling. Maybe it’s taller than Everest, but nothing there seems to suit your current literary craving. Maybe it’s time to discover a NEW TO YOU INDIE AUTHOR.

Today’s selection includes an ongoing New Adult story (and spoiler alert–it’s free!), a non-fiction memoir on women’s sexuality, and a spicy fantasy series (the first book is also free!).


REBUILDING LEX by Amber Medina West

12650507_10154564121181562_1962489812_nAlexandra Greene has had a tough year. A major loss turned into a public scandal has made her the subject of whispers and speculation. All she wants to do is get through the rest of her Senior year and somehow figure out what’s next for her.

But how do you manage a loss that leaves you estranged from nearly everyone you ever cared about?

And what happens when you find the one person who understands isn’t quite who you expect?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR12660207_10154564121186562_581059364_n

I’m a Northeastern transplant dodging rodent sized bugs and sweltering heat in the jungles of Central Florida.

When I’m not battling the urge to pass out, I’m busy being a maker of spreadsheets, geek, photographer, and writer, in no particular order.

You can read my ramblings at http://www.withoutsushi.com or find me on Twitter (@amberwest) where I abuse hashtags and make people laugh.

Or at least, I make myself laugh.

You can have a look at REBUILDING LEX for FREE at Wattpad (click here). It’s an ongoing work, so expect new words from Amber on a regular basis!

•••   •••   •••

EMBRACEABLE by August McLaughlin

41cplfBW3gL._UY250_A provocative blend of memoir, anthology and inspiration, EMBRACEABLE is a celebration of women’s sexual empowerment. Learn how August McLaughlin, creator and host of Girl Boner®, found her way out of the sexual repression to which too many girls and women are prone. She then weaves research and inspiring facts around stories contributed by women who’ve cultivated sexual empowerment in their own lives–on topics ranging from asexuality, kink and burlesque dancing to religion, “slut”-shaming and surviving sexual assault. Learn what girls do (and don’t) learn in sex ed, the truth behind widespread damaging messages, the role body image plays in embracing our sexual selves and more.

Check out the book trailer:

Please note: This book contains sexually explicit material and brief descriptions of sexual violence.


71ieSmacnhLAugust McLaughlin is a nationally recognized health and sexuality writer, author and host and creator of Girl Boner® and Girl Boner® Radio. Her work appears in DAME Magazine, the Huffington Post, LIVESTRONG.com and more. Known for melding personal passion, artistry and activism, August uses her skills as a public speaker and journalist to inspire other women to embrace their bodies and selves, making way for fuller, more authentic lives. http://www.augustmclaughlin.com

Click here to pick up August’s book at Amazon! 

•••   •••   •••


12659662_1247434348605108_280803667_nCursed to darkness, he makes a wish for freedom. She shows up instead…

A shapeshifting gryphon cursed to eternal darkness…

Sunlight shouldn’t be deadly to Griff Cyrus. Determined to break his curse, he follows an oracle’s bizarre instructions to have a magical package shipped to his apartment. Since when do brown trucks deliver mystical cures?

A lonely woman craving the spice of life…

Kala Kaneko’s social life couldn’t be more bland. When a strange parcel arrives at her door by mistake, she seizes the excuse to introduce herself to the intended recipient, her mysterious neighbor.

Fate has a twisted sense of humor…

Griff expects the package to free him from the curse, but opening the box unleashes a mythical creature bent on Kala’s death. Yet if Griff follows his instincts to protect her, he could sacrifice his last chance at freedom.


91WPnb+BjRL._UX250_After an allergic reaction thwarted her attempt to find Atlantis, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.

Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family–and zombie cat.

Visit Jami at jamigold.com for more information and to connect with her on social media!

You can grab UNINTENDED GUARDIAN for FREE! at Amazon. Be sure to check out the subsequent books in the series, TREASURED CLAIM, PURE SACRIFICE, and IRONCLAD DEVOTION while you’re there!

Happy Friday, and as always, loads of love,